Living in Denial of Chronic Disease: A Patient Story
Posted Jun 20 2013 6:29am
The Stanford Medicine Scope ( @ScopeMedBlog ) is one of my favorites. I love the diversity of posts and the blending of science and humanity. My favorite aspect of the Scope Blog is the series that features stories from patients affected by serious and often rare diseases. Stanford has partnered with Inspire to launch this series. If you aren’t familiar with Inspire, they builds and manage online support communities for patients and caregivers. Go to Inspire.com to learn more about them.
The latest post in this series, titled “A Moose No Longer: How I Faced Down My Fears of Heart Disease,” was contributed by Ian Welch, the author of “ Instead of Flowers: Harness the Power of a Chronic Disease. ” (The book is available on Amazon.com .) Ian manages municipal bond portfolios, is an avid long distance runner and practices Bikram Yoga. More to the point of his blog post, Ian has coronary artery disease and lived in denial of the condition for years, despite the presence of some classic symptoms. This is not an unusual story for men my age. In fact, it has me contemplating my own health! Here’s how Ian describes the situation in his post:
“A moose will hide behind a tree when it senses danger, no matter how small the tree is. The moose figures if it can’t see you, you can’t see it.
I hid behind a virtual tree, in denial, when I began to feel symptoms of heart disease. Perhaps I was also naive, thinking I was okay because there was no history of heart disease in my family.”
(Source: Stanford Medicine Scope Blog, June 10, 2103)
For Ian, the experience of being diagnosed and treated for heart disease was tranformational:
“Learning of my disease was the single most valuable experience that I’ve ever had. I’m a different person than I was prior to the diagnosis, and I understand now and relish the fight to improve my situation.”
As a marketer, I find these patient stories to be invaluable. They connect me more closely to what it is I do everyday. And they deepen my understanding of the patient experience and the human condition. Ultimately our objective is to connect with people like Ian with health, wellness and prevention messaging that resonates. How do we engage the 50-year-old male (or female) who doesn’t want to deal with his health or confront his own mortality – despite warning signs? That is one of the many challenges we face.